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melting but not down

Monday, 21 September 2009

ward sisters

I have found a new family since mum has been hospitalised. I and the other daughters visiting their mums on Ward 12 are becoming our own support group. We share our concerns and laughter, update each other on what's been happening in our absence and look out for the patients who have no visitors. There's A in the far corner, so pale and frail and determined to escape her bed - one of the visitors regularly goes over to hold her hand and talk to her to settle her down. When necessary, we call the nurse. Then there's M, to mum's right, she has a beautiful smile and is mostly content to doze or read but occasionally becomes frightened for no obvious reason and clutches the side bars on her bed. We keep an eye out for her too.

Poor D in the bed opposite mum died quietly only an hour after her elderly brother had been to see her, I was there on the afternoon visit and felt annoyed on her behalf - her brother seemed to be ignoring her, spending all his time talking to the daughter of the patient in the next bed while D stared bleakly ahead or rested her head on her arms on the table in front of her. I was told later that the curtains were drawn round all the beds while the doctors attended her and she was taken from the ward; apparently mum was very distressed by this and insisted on sitting with the visitors at the bed on her left, demanding that her daughter (me) be contacted to call the police because "something's not right here!" The lady on mum's left seems to be the liveliest on the ward, a low blood pressure problem I think. The last patient, in the far right corner, rarely lifts her head from her pillow but has two daughters who take turns to spend every visiting time with her.

I think mum is giving up. The nurse told me today that she's hardly eating anything, I suspected as much as the last few visits she has preferred to spend most of her time lying down, not talking a great deal and certainly no sign of the old spitfire, in fact she seems pleased to see me! When she does talk, she sometimes appears confused, tonight I was astonished and dismayed to hear her wonder aloud why her brother hadn't been to see her. I had to tell her he'd passed away (we both went to his funeral), she didn't remember.

These are such strange times. I visit mum and hold her hand and stroke her hair and make her comfortable and its as though I finally have the mother/daughter relationship I always wanted, warm and tender. Now when there's so little time left and more than likely just before the storm aka 'going into residential care', I struggle to understand how I feel, especially when I return home and Mr Lily, thinking he is being supportive, continues to berate mum for all the stress of the past years. I know I've done my fair share of mum 'bashing' but it still makes uncomfortable listening.

I'm back at the doctor's tomorrow, for my official sick note. I'm going to ask him about a counsellor. I think its time.


Emily said...

I'm so glad you've found the other daughters. What a help that must be!

As to Mr Lily, I know what you mean. You love your mother, and love has nothing to do with deserving it. It exists quite apart from whatever abuse or misery went on in your relationship together.

A counselor should really help. I hope you find a good one.

Your posts are so wonderfully descriptive & well-written.

Lily said...

Thank you Emily. 'You love your mother' - how odd that looks after not believing it for as long as I can remember, yet there are times when I'm holding her hand and am moved to kiss her forehead that I do feel something akin to love. Or is it pity? I've no idea.

rilera said...

Hugs Lily. You are both in my thoughts.

Emily said...

You might not feel loving, but your every action while she's in such straits radiates it. I've told my kids that love is not so much a feeling as a mode of behavior, & I believe that. Your mother is lucky to have you.

I struggled for years to come to terms with my own parents. Before my father died, I felt as though I'd struggled uphill thru lots of dense brush to the meeting place (which I pictured as a clearing), but he wasn't there. I'd done what I could to connect, but he wasn't able to do his part. (I hadn't realized that it wasn't all in my hands! Duh.)It was very disappointing, but all that effort at least spared me the "what-ifs" after he died.

Yours is a story many people live, and you tell it well.

Clippy Mat said...

so glad that you have found this support system and that you are able to have these special times with your mum right now. :-)

J said...

So many of us who care for elderly loved ones have frustrated feelings. It's not lack of love but the stress of dealing with so much. You've been thru so much without much of a deep breath before the next round of problems popped up.
Many of us go thru this, doesn't help you much, but remember we understand. The mixed feelings, guilt, end of the tether feeling, wanting to run away to somewhere free, etc. But because we love them we know it's not the person we get aggravated about, it's the situation.
Take care of yourself. Wish I could give you a real hug.

Lily said...

Thank you so much, everyone x x